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Recently the author was on a flight from Dubai to Houston and picked up the Weekend Financial Times (FT) and read an article entitled "Coffee trade goes into battle mode-Gourmet bean trend spurs buyers to enter exotic locations where conflict often simmers." That observation creates a number of different hypotheses about coffee and one's enjoyment of it.

Is a cup of coffee, either from or consumed in a war-torn environment, the best you have ever experienced because it was good or was it because you thought it may have been your last if you were there? If you were introduced to strong French roast coffee in Laos or Vietnam during the sixties or early seventies as a young Texas boy, it was because it was the best non-alcoholic beverage you had ever encountered or remembered. Moreover, in the era of no sleep in Laos and early morning flights to difficult areas, it was a needed shot of adrenaline and the source of the coffee beans would have been irrelevant. In reality, war-torn areas result in destruction and not great agricultural products. On the other hand, they create scarcity.

The lead photo on the FT article is shown below and is entitled "Bean There". Apparently, the current leading high risk, war-torn growers of coffee are eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. As the author has spent time in that neighborhood, the home of the M-23 guerrilla army, it is a very hazardous place to have a cup of coffee much less grow beans. On a recent trip to our seismic camp in DRC, the morning began with a couple of early morning strong coffees in the Mweya Safari Lodge in Uganda followed by a helicopter flight to the southern tip of Uganda, to then cross the border with a heavily armed escort through the "Indian" territory held by the M-23 army. The arrival and return beverage for such a trip was beer not coffee.

Two observations of coffee from these war-torn areas came out of the article - the coffee sells at a premium and could also provide a catalyst for change in those locations. Nonetheless, in the final analysis, the coffee buyers indicate that it is the quality of the coffee and the concept of charity is only a marketing consideration. You should know that many people really are not philanthropic despite the concepts of Buddhism about giving to make merit for your own mental well-being.

In the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar join, coffee production has replaced opium agriculture as a significant cash crop. It is unfortunate that in the adjoining Shan state of Myanmar, the war lords do not let that happen. There, they deliberately destroy the coffee plantings to force the villagers to grow opium poppy which is profitable for them but does not provide the long term sustenance for the growers that coffee would provide. Since prescription opiate drugs have come under great scrutiny in the U.S., the market for heroin has soared. We are fortunate that the Thai side of the border has some measure of rule and order to sustain the growth of great coffee beans which The Elephant Story offers for its quality, and not scarcity, value. The Lahu hill tribe people grow Arabica beans in the Golden Triangle offered by The Elephant Story.

Now, In Comfort, Texas, across the street from The Elephant Story, we have a dear friend and customer, Denise, who reads our blogs every Monday morning with her wake-up special blend of coffee. The message here is her establishment, High's Cafe & Store, offers great coffee and food which you can enjoy and not fly off to a conflict setting. How much better does that get? Rest assured, there will be a blog sequel about Black Ivory Coffee as The Elephant Story is the only source of this wonderful coffee in the western hemisphere.

Therefore, we would prefer to buy coffee beans from the serene setting of the Thai side of the Golden Triangle and drink our coffee at High's Cafe & Store rather than hunker down somewhere in a war zone with bullets flying overhead. However, to each his own.



  Suan Lahu Coffee farm is a Certified Organic single estate co-owned and run by indigenous highland farmers from northern Thailand. The Highland Arabica coffee is cultivated in Chiangrai Province by ethnic Lahu people who care for their land. Suan Lahu slow-roasts bring out the rich fragrance and taste of a premium quality Highland Arabica coffee that you will love.

Medium Light Roast
(500 grams/1.10lb)
Medium Roast
(500 grams/1.10lb)
Medium Dark Roast
(500 grams/1.10lb)


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